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07-14-2012, 01:58 PM   #1
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THE M Prime to have


I am going to be a K30 owner in the next month or two, and was thinking, with the focus peaking, some of the old manual lenses could be quite attractive! Which one do you recommend to get that offers great quality, and is still fairly available used? I am interested in order of importance, landscape, Macro, portraits and fast low light, lenses. Ideally 15 - 50mm.

Thanks in advance,


07-14-2012, 02:06 PM   #2
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K 55mm f/1.8 . It's not the sharpest lens Pentax ever made but the bokeh is really nice. Pentax K 55mm f/1.8 - a set on Flickr
07-14-2012, 02:20 PM   #3
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The M 50mm f/1.7 is truly a wonderful lens. I have just submitted a post in the M club, and realized how versatile it is. To see the post, along with photos taken by others, look here. The 28mm is another nice prime lens to have as a wide(r) angle, but you should get the 50mm first in my opinion.
07-14-2012, 02:44 PM   #4
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For macro the 100mm f4 and 50mm f4 are great lens. Still available at decent prices.

07-14-2012, 02:48 PM   #5
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M50 1.7. awesome bang for the money. sharpness is unbelievable.

But BEWARE, once you go prime you'll never be satisfied with zoom (well.. that was the case with me)
07-14-2012, 02:54 PM   #6
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Also you can just get the A50 1.7 so you can use your dual dials with it. (People said they have the same optical formula and will produce the same output, but some people disagree, they say that the M50 1.7 is sharper, if there are any difference I would say it's very lil that anyone would even notice. I use the M50 1.7 on my analog cameras, and the A50 1.7 on my digital)
07-14-2012, 03:06 PM   #7

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Pentax lenses for macro: every Takumar, SMC (K), M, or A in 50 or 100mm would be ok.
Cheapest would probably be the Takumar 4/50 Macro, most expensive (and rare) the A 2.8/100 macro.
But they are all very good, and they are all only down to 2:1 on 24x36 (a bit better on APS-C, fortunately).

Pentax lenses for low light: SMC Pentax-A 1.4/50. For $$$ of course the 1.2/50, but difficult to find.

For portrait: the 1.4/50 would be ok for that, too. If you want it a bit longer, it gets more difficult. The classical length on 24x36 of 85mm is sometimes a bit long for APS-C, and the ones with small DOF are getting more expensive every month, no matter whether a Pentax 85mm or third party (you are probably 2-3 years too late).

For landscape: Not so easy. The A 2.8/28 is good, the Takumar 3.5/28 (m42) sharper. But these are only "normal" length. Shorter, but much more expensive any 24mm Pentax. These focal lengths weren't so popular at that time, and very expensive, and many 3rd party lenses far from today's standard in IQ. I think you should have a look at our lens data base for reviews.

For real short lenses I am afraid you'll have to stick with rather newer lenses designed for APS-C.

For portrait, I am also using a Russian Helios 44K-4 (PK bayonet). This is 2.0/58; I got it for nearly nothing from a Russian immigrant together with a broken Russian SLR, but it looked really unused. There is a lot of copy variation with these lenses, but mine has fantastic centre sharpness. The resolution of my 10MP sensor (K200D) is the limiting factor, so I cannot compare with my Pentax lenses.

Last edited by RKKS08; 07-14-2012 at 03:19 PM.
07-14-2012, 03:16 PM   #8
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If I were doing it from the start I'd stick with a K mount because the adapters can be a real PITA. There are loads of K mount 50s out there with the M50 f2's being the most abundant and the cheapest. They are NOT terrible either, they just are not great like so many of the Takumars and SMCs available. The Macros are really sharp from f4 and offer a flat field (less distortion) but are more expensive typically and not as fast being f4, however they let you do some amazing close work too. The best all-arounder and the one that appears to have been "updated" for the newly released DA50/1.8 is the SMC 50/1.7 as has been mentioned already. Read the reviews here and look at the pictures and go look for a bargain, there harder to find but still out there.

07-14-2012, 04:10 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by kaiserz Quote
M50 1.7. awesome bang for the money. sharpness is unbelievable.

But BEWARE, once you go prime you'll never be satisfied with zoom (well.. that was the case with me)
This is true!
07-14-2012, 04:11 PM   #10
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Sad to say, your list is such that no single lens can win the prize. Landscape usually means shorter FL, portrait means longer, and Macro with a big M means not fast. Everyone's champ is the M50/1.7 though, so keep an eye out for that. Nearly every brand has an excellent 28mm lens, as another recent post shows.. I really like the 28mm view, so either f/2.8 or 3.5 would be nice to have.
07-14-2012, 05:04 PM   #11

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Another rec for the M50 f/1.7. That was the gateway prime for me too last year. Once you go M, you might find yourself in love with Taks, which can be used like A lenses, but without the aperture info being recorded in the EXIF data.
07-14-2012, 05:39 PM - 1 Like   #12
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It's hard to go wrong with M lenses, if you don't mind manual focus. I'd recommend checking out the lens sample database.

I think the M85 f/2 is my M with the most beautiful personality. It's not really the most versatile lens, though. Every single one of my M lenses makes me a happy camper (except my 50 f2), so I think you'll like whichever one you decide on.
07-14-2012, 05:39 PM   #13
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Ohh if you want macro, one thing you can invest in are macro tubes, and a reverse adapter. (this will cost you a whopping $10 ) 50 1.7 (someone's selling an A 50 1.7 at the market right now for $40 + $10 macro tubes/ reverse from ebay, I don't think you can go wrong with that)
07-14-2012, 07:31 PM   #14
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Do-All Lens?

Hello TJWest,
I agree with just about everyone, that the M (or A) 50mm f/1.7 lens is the best value MF lens, sharp, small, easy to use and not expensive.
You might also consider getting a "Kit" 18-55mm zoom for the time being, though; This will provide you with a useful focal range as you learn the camera system.
After a few hundred shots, you'll find (as we all do!) that there are focal lengths you prefer. This is the way you "see" the world through the lens.
Some use everything under 24mm. They like the wide, scenic view and deep depth of field.
Others like to isolate sections of a given scene, the details or a more "narrow" look, with (usually) much less depth of field. A short telephoto would fill this need.
I also agree with Fuent104, the M 85mm f/2.0 is my absolute favorite M lens and a great short tele. Although it will cost much more than a M/F 50mm, it's well worth it.
Good Luck!
07-14-2012, 09:10 PM   #15
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For the price, to get the feel of the older lens (quality) and for all the things you said (landscape, Macro, portraits and fast low light, lenses. Ideally 15 - 50mm) I suggest a super takumar 28mm f3.5 and m 50 f1.7.

The 28mm for landscape.
And 50mm for potraits and it's fast, and is great with close up diopter, extension tube, or teleconverter for close up.

Likely both plus pentax K mount adapter for $130. or so. Or get a K mount 28 mm F 3.5 and forget the adapter. But if you never tried an older takumar you are missing the best construction of any lens--Leica included.

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